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Arts and Entertainment Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 7 years ago

Dinner at Bijou Café: A Tale of Tears, a Horse, and True Love

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by: Kristen Pace

Have you ever felt like you were terrified of being loved? I was sitting in the Lotus position at Rosemary Court yoga when this seemingly preposterous idea popped into my head. I heard Oprah mention it one time, which gave it at least some degree of self-help street cred. That I was afraid of being loved seemed better than the alternative: I was once a superficial sorority girl hell-bent on landing the frat house catch, and my last relationship had me doubting my current sensibilities.

A year and a half ago, I was freshly divorced and joking with my friend that there seemed to be so many good looking guys in Sarasota when I was married. But I noted that night’s pickin’s at Libby’s were slim. As the words came out of my mouth I spotted Jack from across the room.

“Except. For. That. Guy.” That guy was a tall, dark Ken doll: bulging biceps, broad shoulders, olive skin and blue eyes. He had a smile that could send panties flying, and mine were no exception. I was determined to win him.

I’m from the deep South, so I became a Belle on a mission: I shaved my legs every day, quit dropping the F-bomb, applied my make-up as if I could get called to a photo shoot at any moment and, for the love of sweet baby Jesus, I went to Crossfit religiously. I wore heels often enough to permanently warp my spine, lived in skirts and dresses and if you saw the way I looked at him, you would think he hung the moon. Alas, I never got drawer space.

Nevertheless, I maintained a level of tenacity reserved for badgers and other determined mammals. He fixed things, lifted heavy objects, drove fast, paid for every meal and closed multimillion dollar deals in his gym clothes. He never cried and he never discussed the future, but he looked fantastic in a white button-down shirt. What truly won me over, however, was that he didn’t love me. I had won the lottery for emotionally damaged women.

After it was over, I decided I should probably date a more sensitive man. Clay and I met at the Bijou Café. He arrived wielding a single raspberry sherbet-colored Gerbera Daisy. At dinner he gazed into my soul and called me “breathtaking.” When the check arrived, he offered to go Dutch because he “didn’t want to insult me.” He thought my fascination with medieval history was “smoking hot,” and he thought women were at their sexiest when sporting flannel PJs sans make-up. He cried at War Horse—just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

I had you going there for a minute, didn’t I? Girl wises up and goes for the enlightened nice guy? Who am I kidding? I’m a throwback. I’m a politically incorrect blight on womankind. I fantasize about spending all day in the kitchen roasting duck in Lilly Pullitzer and Jimmy Choos (or dare I say barefoot?). I’d rather be praised for my legs than my intellect, and I think male crying should be reserved for the Three P’s: death of parent, pet or President of the United States.

I want my Mars without a hint of Venus. However, 73 forced “I love yous” and Jack’s hand on the small of my back publicly announcing I was “his” for 537 days in a row was not enough to sustain me. As I transitioned into downward dog I realized my problem was not one of type. The problem was me.

Failing at life’s ultimate fairy tale had left me shell-shocked, and settling for half of the equation was safe for a while. When I’m brave again, he will appear on his mighty steed in all his alpha-male glory, ready to fix the sink with one swift twist of a wrench. Not necessarily five minutes into the first date, but after some time he will twirl me around on the dance floor, dip me, and with a grin and a wink he’ll tell me he loves me. Absent of fear and without a hint of trepidation, I will drop the L-word right back on him.

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